Friday, 22 January 2010

Making a Curtain - Part One

We have discovered that one reason that our house is so cold is the fact that there is a draft coming in from the front door. This is not an old door, it is a brand new PVC affair that should be fine. But it's not. We have decided that the best thing to do in this case is to create a nice heavy curtain and cover the problem. We don't tend to use the front door, it being a farm, most people enter form the farm yard side, so there isn't a thoroughfare of people coming and going. We decided it was cheaper to make our own curtains and so bought some material.
Sable helped with the laying out of the lovely striped blue material on the living room floor.
She however didn't hang around to help me pin the thermal lining on the back! Now just for the record I have never made lined curtains before so this is all new to me, so if you are an expert curtain maker please look away now....
All I had to do now was sew the pieces together and then it was time to think about how to hang it!!
So now I have two projects on the go, one quilt and one curtain!!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Making a Quilt - Part Three

Once the whole top of my quilt was made I pinned it to the padding for the inside and the backing (I have chosen a nice pinky purple with ducks on!!! Ahhhhh!!!!)
I then cut and created a nice long piece of fabric for the binding and set to work trying to sew it all together.

The bind is now sewn in place but it still needs to be sewn on the back, which I will have to do by hand.

After this I just have the quilting part to do. I intend to 'Stitch in the Ditch' around all of the little squares. I am not going to try anything fancy on this first quilt. Just want to get to grips with the basics! I am still not sure that the block fabric isn't a bit fussy but I think it is looking better than I imagined so I have decided not to dwell on it any longer!!

Making a Quilt - Part 1
Making a Quilt - Part 2

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Making a Quilt - Part Two

For the next stage I decided to continue with the chopping up and rebuilding of the little/large squares. Here is my army of little squares all ready to be stitched and pressed. I discovered that I seemed to have a lot more of one fabric than I did of the others. Hence the reason all the little squares are laid out here. I was concerned that if I just picked at random I would end up with a square at the end which was all the same fabric!! I did mess up the combinations once or twice, particularly when the cat chose to 'help' and came skidding across the table on a fabric sled!!
I know that I am supposed to 1/4 inch seams and I am not an expert on the sewing machine. So although my machine has a mark for 1/4 inch seams I had to add the addition of some electrical tape to mark the line all the way down!
This might look to you like the handles for a table football game - but you'd be wrong! It is a state of the art fabric location and separation device! I had cut the strips that I was going to use for the blocks of colour and they needed sorting so I got them in the right order!

Soon I had a centre of little squares with a border of block colour. Just needed to sew all those little squares on the outside!

The borders took sometime to cut out as I was still working with my tape measure as both measuring and straight line drawing device!! It was also at this point when I wondered if my block fabric was perhaps a little fussy, but it was still nice fabric so I was happy enough!!

Making Quilt Part 1

Monday, 18 January 2010

Making a Quilt - Part One

After watching a half hour show with an amazingly excited woman making quilts on Rural TV I decided that that was something that I needed to have a go at! Now I have never made a quilt before in my life so I had no experience but I did know how to sew two pieces of material together and I do know how to look up information videos on the Internet! So nothing was standing in my way!

I headed to eBay and got myself some pre-cut squares in nice shades of purple. We are thinking purple for the living room so this should fit in perfectly! I found some nice 6 inch squares in a range of purple patterns (30 squares in total). I came up with my pattern which was basically, some in the middle, then a block colour, then some more squares, finish with another block colour.

But me being me I don't do things by halves so I decided it would be better to cut the big squares into small squares and then sew them back together as multi-coloured patches. Now bear in mind through all of this my entire kit for cutting material consisted of a tape measure, a pair of scissors and a pencil (HB I believe!). But soon my big squares were little squares and I began the process of sewing them all together into big squares again.
First I sewed them into pairs....

Then into squares...

I did manage to pick up a few tricks online about pressing seams into a kind of pinwheel shape so that everything lies flat. i did find out though that you have to be sure to do them all the same way, otherwise things get a bit weird!!

Once my big squares were sewn up I sewed them together and behold....

The centre panel for my quilt!
Tune in again for the latest update...

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Baking Out Those Blues - (Blue Hands That Is!)

When its cold outside and you need a little pick me up nothing says 'It's Okay, your toasty now' better than food! While we were battling with the frozen pipes over the weekend I decided that the troops needed some pick me up so I set about making some Black Forest Muffins! I had intended to make them before Christmas and all the ingredients were in the cupboard waiting, but I never seemed to get round to it!
It was somewhat hard going as 'Use butter at room temperature' didn't quite work out as the recipe intended, seeing as the house was colder than the fridge at the time, but perseverance and 'whisking by the fire' paid off and the mixture finally resembled something close to muffin mix! I only had small muffin cases, not much bigger than cup cake cases, so they weren't the huge chocolate fests I had originally intended but they where certainly tasty. Only two remain of the 10 I made, so the masses must have approved as well!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Freeze a Crowd

Thursday evening - the car thermometer read -12.5 oC (about 9.5 oF). When I poured water from a bottle in the car onto the windscreen it steamed. I was waiting in the car park of the train station to pick up Farm Guy as we are currently down to one car - the car that can't make it up the slippery hill to the farm!

It was cold, we couldn't wait to get back to the farm and get cozy - our fuel is running out as the oil firm are overwhelmed with orders so we had to make our last few drops count - but it is definitely better than being out here. We only got stuck once on the way up the hill - big cheer for the car.

Once at home the weekends proceeding started with a trip to the loo. Farm Guy reports that it doesn't flush, the cistern is empty. A check of the taps soon reveals that there is no water in the house. A phone call to farm Dad - what do we do? Farm Dad explains how the pipes work, that our water doesn't come to the house underground, it comes to the edge of the barns underground then passes along the ceiling of the barns until it reaches the house - go check.

We went "check"!
Frozen, in one place the pipe had burst we had a pipe shaped piece of ice between one joint and the rest of the pipe. Good thing it was frozen as the break was hanging over the furniture and unopened boxes being stored since the move. A trip down the yard to the stopcock left us uninspired, it was impossible to tell if we had turned the water off or not. Back inside to warm up and a call back to Farm Dad - he said he'd be there on Friday! A trip to Asda secured us some bottled water for drinking and washing. The toilet proved a quandary until we came up with the following instructions for all those attempting to flush the loo:
  1. Fill all possible buckets with snow.
  2. Put snow in all available pans.
  3. Melt on oven.
  4. Use to flush loo.
  5. Toilet flushing time - 25 minutes!!!

No unnecessary flushing people!!

The next evening Farm Dad and Farm Mum arrived and the work began. First securing the broken pipe and secondly putting a heater into the room below the burst to try ans see if we can thaw it out. As not much could be done it was left until the Saturday for the real work to begin. Farm Guy and Dad took the opportunity to go the Hardware Store for parts and Farm Mum and I waited at home, keeping the fire going. We were just discussing the fact there was no water and no heating (save for a couple of set times a day to preserve fuel) and how people must have coped before all mod cons when the power cut happened. We sat in the glow from the fire, I looked at her, she looked at me, we fell about laughing! Luckily the power cut only lasted a minute or two and was never heard of again. A great side line of that was that, after the power cut, the bottom (big) oven on the cooker now works!! It had stopped working on Christmas Day, of ALL days, and no one could see what the problem was!!
Saturday dawned cold but clear and the guys headed out to sort out the pipes. Further inspection found another 'Pop Out' and three splits. That section of pipe would have to go and then be replaced, and include another stopcock so we don't have to dig out the manhole cover from under 2 feet of snow next time! An outside tap was defrosted and served as our water supply. Farm Mum and I were on water collection, marching back and forth with bottles filling them up from the outside tap - which is on the other side of the barns. Farm Dad and Farm Guy set about fixing the pipes and trying to remove them from the wall (they had been plastered in) so that they could be lagged after being defrosted (oh yes, they weren't lagged, Ho Ho!!). Farm Dad tried Blow Torching one of the pipes but it didn't seem to work and after a while gave up and went back to trying to prize the pipe from the wall..

A very wet Farm Dad stood in the Living Room doorway. Farm Guy had headed to the Hardware Store for extra pipes leaving Farm dad behind. Apparently whilst up his ladder Farm Dad had heard a noise that he thought to be the Farm Dog, he looked down to be meant by a fountain of water. The pipe he had been heating had finally defrosted right through and was now apparently working fine. He then had to battle through the spray to attach the new Stopcock to the end of the pipe and turn it off. He said he felt he was in one of those old war films when the Submarine gets a leak and they are trying to plug it up.

We sat him by the fire and got some tea on to try and defrost him!

By the end of Saturday all known bursts were fixed and the pipe was ready for flowing water. Sunday became the day of the hot water. Hot water and towels went into the barn, empty buckets and (I kid not) frozen stiff towels came out! More water was collected by the water acquisition team and the toilet was flushed as needed!

At 1.40pm a small trickle of water began in the kitchen! There was pandemonium, it was like the first time people had every thought of putting water into houses through pipes! Congratulations all round. By 2.15pm we could fill the kettle from the tap! Such luxury. By 5pm all taps were working properly and we had hot running water for the first time in four days. the pipes were all snuggle lagged and more tea was had. The only tap that didn't work was the hot tap in the kitchen. We couldn't work it out. Farm Dad sprayed the hallway as he disconnected a pipe to see 'if the water had made it this far'. Strange, but water in most places is better than nothing so we considered it a victory.

Farm Mum and Dad left and we went back to our lives.

Until 10pm. I discovered that the water pressure in the cold tap had dropped. Informing Farm Guy that I thought the pipes may be freezing back up he headed back out to the shed - he had another theory - he was right! One of the pipes in the shed, that just went to another tap in the byre, had been started on in the defrosting process and then abandoned as non-essential. It had now finished defrosting itself and was spraying all over the place. It too had been 'popped out' by the expanding ice inside and once it defrosted...

Off went the water again, at our nice new stopcock, and up the ladder went Farm Guy. It was simpler than we thought to fix but I wouldn't touch it people! Back on went the water and we trooped in to see if the pressure had returned. It had and we returned to a kitchen full of steam! The Hot Tap, which had been left on to catch the first signs of water was now working full flow and filling the room with steam and Hot Water spray! Hurray, working water and our own steam room.

Its been a couple of days now and things are warming up here, although they are threatening more freezing next week, but for now we are back to normal!

Ah, to fill a kettle - one of the 3 drafted in for the weekend!
(by the way that is COLD water going in not hot! Yes, our kitchen was that cold, cold water was warm enough to steam!)

Friday, 8 January 2010

A Tasty Find...

How do you find those blogs that make you go "Hey, I gotta keep up with this"?

Most of the time I sneak a peek at other people's Favourite Blogs List, heck if someone else likes it then odds are it's a good one! Of course there is spotting those who leave comments on your own posts, a polite return visit often uncovers a multitude of fabulous information and stories. And then there is the comments left by others on some of your personal favourites. This is where I discovered my newest Blog to the list. The comment was left on an older post on a blog I read regularly. There was nothing special about the comment itself, no insights, no family history stories just a politely written compliment on the blogger's post. But something about that comment made me click on to find out who this person was. And I was rewarded with a great blog - Life At Cobble Hill Farm - I have been reading through all the archives recently and only become more glad that I clicked that link!

I know it must have been fate as I had just bought a special offer of Buy One Get One Free Blueberries (that's punnets not individual Blueberries, although I guess it amounts to the same thing!) and was looking for something to do with them. A recipe greeted me at Cobble Hill Farm, a recipe that I attempted that very night, a recipe I will certainly do again, a recipe perfect for my newly aquired Blueberries! (See picture)

My husband decided that cream was the way to go when eating it but I thought it was amazing on its own... want to know how to make it? Well then, head on over to Cobble Hill and get the recipe - Blueberry Oven Pancakes - you will not be disappointed!

I love finding a new blog, especially ones about the country life: reading about others exploits, trials and experiences is always inspiring and always gives me plenty to think about! It lets me see other things happening that maybe I cannot achieve myself (for example some of the great fruit you guys grow may struggle in Scotland) but it still gives me the drive to do what I can with what I've got.

So thanks guys for all your inspiration!

And get on over to Cobble Hill - they're making pancakes...

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Hi! Did you think we had become buried under the snow!! Well, almost! We still have pretty much no Internet access, the best we have got is what we can eeek out of a mobile phone connected to a PC, and let me tell you, that is not a lot! I have managed to get some photos up of the scenery around our way.
Rocco - unimpressed with the cold feet!

This is the road leading to our house. It looks pretty clear, unfortunately this isn't the way we need to drive, we need to go the other way which for some reason never gets cleared!

The Holly tree that gave up some of its wares for our wreath!

Monty finds the best way to deal with deep snow and cold feet is to run as fast as he can!

Looking down the hill, the fence posts were half buried at this point - it got worse!

I just like this tree! I think it may be literally on the cards for next years Xmas Cards!

Looking down our field.

And the field again..
We have now got the Sky dish fitted (only took us 3 weeks!) but apparently it can take up to 15 days till we get Internet - but hopefully soon my little chums! We certainly have some upcoming events in the garden, for soon we shall select our fruit bushes and fruit trees!
This has been put off as at present we would have to dig through an extra couple of feet of snow to create some suitable beds, but I think we may have to bite the bullet and get on with it, snow or no snow!
I have also subscribed (or rather got a subscription as an Xmas Present) to Grow Your Own Magazine (oh yes), which as a subscription gift came with several packets of seeds, possibly 10. So, this year we will see the Grow Your Own - Garden! I will plant out all the seeds that came with it and you will be able to follow its progress! More on that to come! The magazine often gives out free seeds too so I will add them to the Grow Your Own - Garden as they arrive! This is buy no means a paid advert or anything but I adore this magazine and anyone looking for a good read (in the UK although I expect you can get overseas subs) should take a look at it!

Well, Happy New Year everyone, and thanks for being patient with my updates, they will become more frequent as soon as possible!